Good communication is the cornerstone of happy relationships. Learn how to talk and listen successfully. We all know good communication is at the heart of every good relationship. Whether it has been a wonderful or a rotten day, whether there has been a crisis or a triumph, sharing it in words makes you and your partner feel more understood, more appreciated, more loved. The ability to communicate well is the most important relationship skill of all.
Here are the rest of the foolproof lessons to help you both talk and listen effectively and conquer bad communication habits for good.
Lesson Three: train him to communicate
It is not your imagination. Men do find it harder to communicate than women do. Little girls literally have more of their brain devoted to using words. Men are not taught basic communication skills in the same way as women are. And they are more likely to feel uncomfortable with any communication that involves strong emotion.
- Show him how to listen. Show him just how loved you feel when he keeps eye contact as you talk; when he responds to what you say; when he asks you questions. Tell him particularly when his good listening gets a result, when it helps you make the right decision or feel more positive about a situation.
- Show him how to talk, particularly about sensitive issues. Look out for his signals of wanting to confide – a broody silence, more hugs than usual, seeming irritable. When you spot these signs, give him space to express himself and he will slowly learn that opening up is a positive thing to do.
Lesson Four: break your bad habits.
So often, even if you know the basics, you can get into bad communication habits with your partner. Put at least one of these tips into practice every day over the next month and you will clean up your communication by at least 500 per cent!
- If you consistently talk about yourself, he will feel pushed out. Break the habit by asking more questions.
- If you use closed body language, he will feel rejected. Break the habit by deliberately uncrossing your arms and legs, and smiling more.
- If you keep interrupting, he will feel unheard. Break the habit by learning his signals for ‘it is your turn now’ – such as slowing down, looking at you, gesturing you to speak. Then only speaking when he offers those.
- If you keep answering for him when he is asked a question, he will quite rightly object. Break the habit by agreeing a signal or code word that he can use to ‘nudge’ you if you are starting to do this.
- If you carry on communicating when you are irritated, you will end up irritating him too. Break the habit – and avoid rows – by taking at least 20 minutes apart before carrying on the conversation.
Lesson Five: finally … get your timing right
Sometimes, communicating will actually make things worse. If there is a crisis, a rush, or you are both tired, cranky or drunk, you do not have time to talk and if you did, it would only up the ante. So do the sensible thing and wait. Agreeing that you will touch down that evening, or tomorrow is a much better deal, because then you can communicate calmly, lovingly and with all the time in the world.